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Effect of emissions on the Respiratory System of the Workers Belonging to Different Industries: An Overview


In the present era a tremendous increase in industries is found which directly linked to raising human population and their associated needs. This industrial revolution brings changes in human life on one hand and have negative impacts on the human life on other hand as these industries are source of tons of wastes that released into the atmosphere. Emissions includes particulate matters (aflatoxins, endotoxins and dust), heavy metals (Cr, Cd, Pb, Hg and Ni), gases (NH3, SO2, NOx, H2S and CO), and volatile organic compounds.

The current review study emphasized on emissions from four major industries such as poultry, leather, brick kiln and paint industry and its influence on worker’s health. It is well known the emissions produced significant negative impact on the respiratory system of the workers particularly those which are continuously exposed to particulate enriched environments. The emissions can cause bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, chronic bronchitis and coal workers’ pneumoconiosis. The acute and chronic symptoms also depend on time and duration of exposure and concentration of emissions.

It is reported in literature studies most of the respiratory issues are due to lack of proper precaution measures, awareness and personal protective equipment’s in these industries. So, there is need to highlight these industries related problems to create general awareness among people and to aware regulatory bodies so that they bring strictness on the use of proper personal equipment and to control the impacts of industrial emissions on the lungs of the workers.


Particulate matter, Industrial revolution, Lung, Damage


Particulate matter (PM) is the term used to describe fine solid matter that is suspended in air [1]. Due to industrial revolution, there is tons of wastes which is released from different industries and goes into the environment. According to literature, there are two types of particulates PM2.5 and PM10 and these are directly released into the environment or produced indirectly as a result of chemical reactions between various primary pollutants [2, 3].
The main source of atmospheric pollution in the majority of cities is breathable particulate matter that enter the respiratory system by the mouth and nose. PM10 stands for particles with a diameter under 10 µm. PM2.5 stands for the dangerous particulate matter with mass median aerodynamic dimensions smaller than 2.5µm and mostly affects human health.

The health of living things, including humans, is influenced by a number of variables, including size, concentration, type, and duration of inhaled PM. High PM levels are anticipated to be present in 90% of the world’s population, resulting in over 42,000 early deaths year, according to WHO (2018). According to studies by Cambra-López et al. [4], the three main sites where foreign chemicals are absorbed are the skin, lungs, and gastrointestinal system. Pig and poultry houses release up to 30% and 50% respectively, of the overall emissions of particulates from agriculture in Europe [4].
Skin absorption has the potential to be a substantial route of absorption because the skin is constantly exposed to foreign compounds such as gases, solvents, and substances in solution. Despite having a large surface area for absorption, the structure of the skin acts as a barrier to absorption. This is because the epidermis’ outer cells are tightly packed with keratin, has a little blood supply, and has dead cells as its outermost layer. Although the dermis beneath is vascularized, due to its thickness and numerous cell layers, it will also inhibit absorption [5].
From a toxicological standpoint, lung exposure to dangerous chemicals has a greater impact than skin exposure. The air that employees breathe could contain a variety of dangerous substances. In a workplace situation, whether industrial or not, they could be gases (like carbon monoxide), solvent vapours (like methylene chloride), aerosols, or particle debris (like asbestos). Additionally, harmful chemicals like nitrogen oxides may be present in the air that employees breathe. The human lungs have a surface area of 50 to 100 m2, a sufficient blood supply, and a two cell membrane-thick wall separating the lifeblood from the air in the alveolus. As a result, the lungs quickly and effectively absorb the substance [6].
Many drugs are generally taken by mouth, many foreign chemicals are frequently absorbed through diet, and many dangerous substances are ingested either accidentally or on purpose. The digestive system is therefore a crucial site for the absorption of exogenous chemicals [7].

1. Harmful impacts of emission on poultry workers

Poultry industry is contributing on large scale as 1.3% to the country’s GDP. Pakistan’s poultry industry is a vital and crucial part of the country’s agricultural economy. Since Pakistan’s commercial poultry industry began in the 1960s, a sizable amount of the country’s population’s daily protein intake has come from chicken. Poultry faming provides millions of eggs and meat for the human need as well as it also provides thousands of jobs for the workers [8]. However, it is noticed the workers who work in the poultry industry are at higher risk for lungs illness than usual chance of developing chronic lung disorders. The occupants mostly have higher risk of lungs diseases, such as coughing, sore throats, eye irritation, headaches, and pressure in the chest, muscular aches, asthma, and other diseases [9].

1.1. Harmful hazards of allergens on poultry workers

The environment of the poultry is rich with several allergens of the respiratory tract such are, organic dust, mycotoxins, endotoxins, and disinfectants. The air at poultry farms also contains a variety of potentially dangerous contaminants, such as gases e.g. carbon oxides, sulphur oxides and ammonia. According to the Ellen et al., organic dust found in chicken coops, is a complex mixture of feces pieces, feed, litter, and animal remnants including feathers and skin [10]. Moreover, several studies also reported the poultry farms have a large concentration of airborne microbes such as fungi, viruses, bacteria, and their metabolites [11-14]. Research on the synergistic effects of organic dust and ammonia are studied and it is reported that might the emissions increased the risk of

respiratory dysfunction for workers in confined animal environments However, in Pakistan one of the study showed least effects of emissions due to healthy worker survivor effect [15].

1.1.1. Harmful hazards of aflatoxins on poultry workers

The discharge of numerous hazardous compounds from poultry farms, including aflatoxins (AF), has a significant negative influence on the health of the workers. According to Bhatnagar et al., the fungi A. parasiticus and A. flavus create aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are mycotoxin, which can colonise the respiratory tract and result in fungal rhinosinusitis or bronchopulmonary aspergillosis [16-17]. There are many types of aflatoxin but alflatoxin AF B1 activates TLR4 signalling to promote influenza replication (IR) and increase virus related lung damage (VRLD) [18-19].

1.1.2. Harmful hazards of endotoxin on poultry workers

Endotoxins, which are created by the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria, make up a sizeable component of organic dust [20-22]. Because endotoxins have pro-inflammatory qualities, it is thought that they contribute to the emergence of occupational lung illnesses such as organic dust toxic syndrome (ODTS), chronic airway obstruction, and asthma-like syndrome [23-25]. Significant endotoxin concentrations have been discovered in poultry beam houses [26-28].

2. Harmful impacts of emission on Leather workers

Leather industry is second-ranked sector of Pakistan’s economy and its most rapidly growing export- industry. It contributes 5% to the nation’s GDP and employs more than 500,000 people. The tanning process transforms unfinished hides and skins into leather. Tanning involves the use of numerous chemicals, which are ultimately released into the atmosphere in various ways, producing contamination of the air, land, and water [29-31]. According to Hashmi et al. (2017), the leather industry may benefit a society that aims to use less, reuse more, and recycle everything. Tannery wastes cause major health risks for workers by polluting the air, land, and water. Exposure to the toxic environment of the leather industry has been related to several carcinomas, hepatic and neurological disorders, asthma, dermatitis, and other conditions [32-34]. Even though the leather business contributes significantly to the economy, the workers are concerned about the rising levels of harmful petrol emissions [35].

2.1. Effluents released from leather industries
The effluents of leather industries contain 40 distinct sorts of compounds, including hazardous heavy metals, acids, and dyes, and as a result, tanneries produce various categories of harmful waste that are regarded to be substantial environmental contaminants [36-37].
According to Gnanasekaran et al. (2010), an increased atmospheric concentration of pollutants like chromium, NOX, SOX, fine particulate matter (PM10), volatile organic chemicals (VOC), and hydrogen sulphide, may cause an increase in allergic diseases, pulmonary asthma, and improved response of the airways to inhaled allergens [38-40].

2.2. Harmful hazards of heavy metals on Leather workers
There are many types of heavy metals found in the leather industry such as Chromium (Cr), Cadmium (Cd), Lead (Pb), Mercury (Hg), and Nickle (Ni). Cr compounds are pulmonary irritants for the workers when they inhaled in such contaminated environment. Lung, nasal, and sinus cancer risk all rise with prolonged inhalation of Cr (VI) compounds [41].

2.2.1. Effects of cadmium
Occupational exposure to cadmium can lead to a variety of adverse health effects including cancer. Acute inhalation exposure (high levels over a short period of time) to cadmium can result in flu-like symptoms (chills, fever, and muscle pain) and can damage the lungs. Chronic exposure (low level over an extended period of time) can result in kidney, bone and lung disease [42-43].

2.2.2. Effects of lead
According to epidemiological research, lead exposure may contribute to the prevalence of asthma in lead-exposed workers [44-45].

2.2.3. Effects of mercury
Acute inhalation of elemental mercury vapour at high concentrations can result in chemical pneumonitis, dyspnea, chest pain, and a dry cough in addition to lung inflammation [46-47].

2.2.4. Effects of nickel
People who have breathed dust containing specific nickel compounds while working in nickel rich environment have experienced the most severe adverse health effects from nickel exposure, including chronic bronchitis, decreased lung function, and lung and nasal sinus cancer [48-49].

3. Harmful hazards of Brick kiln on human lungs

One of the World fastest-growing businesses, the brick making sector employs a sizable population. The workers of the brick kiln exposed to the particulate enriched environment at brick kiln [50-52]. During the manufacturing of the bricks a different type of gases emits from the chimneys of the brick kilns. Brick kiln emissions are mostly made up of fine coal particles, dust, organic materials, and trace amounts of gases like SO2, NOx, H2S, and CO [53].

3.1. Coal workers’ and Pneumoconiosis
The use of coal in brick kiln cause Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), a potentially incapacitating lung condition, can result from breathing in respirable coal dust. Early on, coughing, shortness of breath, and heaviness in the chest are the main symptoms. Sometimes black sputum (mucus) might be coughed up. Initially, these symptoms might appear after exerting oneself, but as the illness worsens, they might start to appear even when one is at rest [54].

3.2. Effects of sulphur dioxide
Sulphur dioxide inhalation irritates the lungs, eyes, throat, nose, and other respiratory organs. Sore throat, runny nose, burning eyes, and cough are typical symptoms. High concentrations inhaled might enlarge the lungs and make breathing difficult. Burns or irritated skin might result from coming into touch with sulphur dioxide vapour [55-56].

3.3. Effects of nitrous oxide
The nitrous oxide also shows harmful effects on the respiratory system of the workers. Nitrous oxide causes a decrease in tidal volume and an increase in respiratory rate. The increase in respiratory rate is a consequence of central nervous system activation and possibly activation of pulmonary stretch receptors [57-59]. Usually, minute ventilation is maintained. It also leads to a reduction in the ventilatory response to hypoxia and hypercapnia. Inhalation of nitrous oxide depresses tracheal mucociliary flow and neutrophil chemotaxis. This may increase the incidence of post-operative respiratory complications [60-61].

3.4. Effects of hydrogen sulphide
The environment of the brick kiln also contains hydrogen sulphide gas which having tremendous effect on the lungs of the workers. Low concentrations (50 ppm) of inhaled hydrogen sulphide can quickly cause irritation of the nose, throat, and lower respiratory tract, as well as pulmonary symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, and bronchial or lung haemorrhage [62-63]. In contrast, occlusive bronchiolitis and pulmonary oedema may result from a high H2S concentration (50–500 ppm), which can cause persistent inflammation and lung fibrosis [64-65].

3.5. Effects of combustion of coal
During the combustion of coal for the bricks manufacturing in brick kiln carbon monoxide (CO) is produced. A small concentration of the CO has significant effect on the human lungs. CO has shown cellular and tissue-protective benefits at low concentrations despite systemic and cellular toxicity at high concentrations. Models of acute lung injury are hyperoxia, hypoxia, ischemia-reperfusion, and mechanical ventilation [66].

4. Harmful hazards of paint industry on human lungs

Varnishes, lacquers, stains, coatings, primers, and other coverings are all included in the term “paint,” which refers to a variety of paint industry products. Resins, pigments, fillers, solvents, and other components are combined to create paint. Paints can be found in suspensions that are solid, liquid, or gaseous. There are several companies that release paint industry waste into the environment untreated, which has a negative impact on the ecosystem. One of the sectors of the Pakistani economy that is growing quickly is the paint business [67-68].

4.1. Components of paint
Paint products contain thousands of different chemical substances, including pigments, extenders, binders, additives, and solvents like benzene, toluene, xylene, ketones, and glycol ethers. Although the patterns and levels of exposure to particular agents may differ from those of painters, paint industry employees are potentially exposed to the chemicals included in paint products [69].

4.2. Effects of volatile organic compounds on Paint workers
The industrial VOCs benzene and toluene, which are frequently found in indoor environments, are utilised significantly in industry. Due to their lipophilicity, these substances have the potential to be hazardous due to the accumulation of lipid bilayers in cellular membranes and concentration in fatty deposits after prolonged exposure [70-71]. However, one of its main target organs is the lung, which helps to cause the effects of inhaling benzene, particularly because it biotransforms lung cells into reactive metabolites [72]. There are little publications on the effects of toluene on the airways, despite the fact that it is widely known for its neurotoxicity and oxidative damage in a variety of organs [73-74].

4.2.1. Effects of xylene
An aromatic hydrocarbon called xylene is a common solvent in the paint industry. It is a combustible liquid that should only be used with extreme caution. The vapours are quickly absorbed by the lungs after exposure. The nose and throat became irritated after undergoing a 3-5 minutes acute inhalational exposure to mixed xylene at a concentration of 200 ppm [75] [76]. An autopsy of a worker who passed away after spending many hours painting was described by Morley et al. At the acute exposure of 100 ppm, focal regions of intra-alveolar haemorrhage, pulmonary oedema, and severe lung congestion were observed. The indications and symptoms of workers who have been exposed to mixed xylene over time have been extensively studied by Uchida et al. Workers who are exposed to xylene vapours on a regular basis have been reported to have a considerable increase in throat and nasal irritation [77-78].

4.2.2. Effects of glycol ethers
Humans who are exposed acutely (over a short period of time) to high concentrations of the glycol ethers develop narcosis, pulmonary edoema, and major epatic and renal damages. Humans may experience neurological and blood consequences from chronic (long-term) exposure to glycol ethers, including exhaustion, nausea, tremor, and anaemia [79].

4.3. Protective measures
The use of certified respiratory protection equipments are the most crucial step in protection of a worker’s health from dangerous respiratory threats, followed by applying realistic engineering and administrative control measures.
The requirement for regular pre-employment training is emphasised by researchers in order to guarantee that employees are properly educated about the possible risks and safety precautions associated with solvent exposure. Employers can assist increase awareness and a safer working environment for people in the paint business by offering frequent training [80-81]. Industrial hazards can be avoided with the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes safety clothes, helmets, and other overhead working equipment. Always choose the best PPE for the task at hand, and set an example for others. Do not skimp on workplace safety.


It was concluded there is effect of environment exposure on worker for respiratory disorders. Along with this, the occupationally exposed person to aflatoxins, dust, heavy metals (chromium, cadmium, lead, mercury and nickel), hazardous gases, and harsh solvents in poultry, leather, brick kiln and paint industries faces the risk of experiencing injury to their skin, liver, and renal functions. This study emphasised on the need for occupational health regulations, effective monitoring, and preventative measures to safeguard the health and wellbeing of exposed workers.


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*Corresponding author: Roheela Yasmeen, Department of Biology, Lahore Garrison University Phase VI, Sector C, Avenue IV, DHA Lahore, Pakistan E-mail:

Citation: Roheela Yasmeen (2023) Occupational Exposure of The Emissions on The Respiratory System of The Workers Belonging to Different Industries. Arch Resp Res 2: 001

Received: July 21, 2023; Accepted: Aug 26 2023, Published: Aug 30 2023

Copyright: © 2023 Roheela Yasmeen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits un-restricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Roheela Yasmeen*, Faheem Hafeez

*Department of Biology, Lahore Garrison University, Lahore, Pakistan